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Muqtada al-Sadr (file photo)
24 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Followers and opponents of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr today clashed in Al-Najaf, a Shi'ite holy city in southern Iraq, leaving at least four people dead.
There were few immediate details, but the fighting apparently started as al-Sadr supporters tried to re-open their local office. The office was closed in 2004 following a rebellion led by followers of the controversial cleric and U.S. forces.
After the Al-Najaf attack, Health Minister Abd al-Muttalib Muhammad Ali, an ally of al-Sadr, said he is suspending his membership in the government following what he called an attack on al-Sadr's office in Al-Najaf.
Interior Minister Bayan Sulagh Jabr confirmed the clashes and said demonstrators had "burned down the office of al-Sadr's group." He said security forces had intervened to end the clashes.
Reuters is reporting that a group of al-Sadr supporters -- known as the Imam al-Madhi Army -- later attacked the offices of a rival Shi'ite group in Baghdad, but police had few details about the incidents.
(Reuters/AFP/AP)For the latest news and analysis on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".